Habitats of the Maltese Islands
The word habitat (from Latin, it dwells) refers to the environment where a community
of organisms lives. When describing the habitat of a particular area this is
usually classified as a natural or a man-made habitat. In the case
of our islands it is often difficult to find habitats which are purely natural – there is no place where the influence
of man has not left its mark on our environment. The Maltese Islands, have, after all, been inhabited
for millennia and also happen to be very small … and very densely populated. It is no surprise therefore that the heavy
pressures which have always been exerted on the islands’ natural resources have changed its whole landscape and some
habitats have been modified irreversibly.
What is surprising though is that the islands still retain quite an array of habitats and quite a rich
biodiversity – more than 4000 species of plants and animals have been recorded (on land) and more than 80 of these are
endemic i.e. restricted to just our islands.
While man has an undeniable impact on his surrounding environment, he is not the sole influence. Long before
his arrival, natural elements had started shaping our landscape and dictating what habitats could evolve. The main natural
factors which determine habitat type are climate and substrate (i.e whether it is on rock, soil, clay, sand).
Maltese vegetation can be classified into three types:
1. vegetation which forms part of a community pertaining
to the natural successional series (typical
of the Mediterranean region) that is woodland, maquis, garigue and steppe.
communities of specialised habitats - where
species are highly adapted to a particular type of environment :
· cliffs and boulder screes (irdum)
· coastal communities such as sand dunes, rocky shores, saline
· Freshwater : Valleys / temporary rock pools
3.vegetation communities of disturbed ground – unfortunately these are fast becoming one of the most common habitats created by human
Let us see each in some more detail …
The natural successional series
Locally there are only remnants of what most probably used to be extensive woodlands
dominated by the beautiful Holm Oak (Balluta). Today the few sites where rare ancient
oaks survive are considered as being ‘living fossils’ of ancient forests, thought to be over 800 years old and
as such are protected, amongst other laws, by the Antiquities Act of 1925 wherein they are described as “National Monuments”.
Buskett is a semi-natural mixed woodland consisting mainly of conifers –
parts of it were planted especially during the time of the Knights but some ancient trees such as Holm Oaks and Ash (Fraxxnu)
were already on site. Some areas in Buskett have taken centuries to reach a state of natural regeneration and this can take
place only if not impeded by misguided human intervention.
Possible remnants of other ancient woodlands are a group of rare Sandarac Gum
Trees (the National Tree Siġra tal-Għargħar)
– several placenames possibly suggest its presence in other times (San ġwann
Since 1990 Nature Trust embarked on a project of widespread afforestation of Wied
Għollieqa as an attempt to re-create typical native woodlands and other habitats in abandoned fields.
This habitat is characterised by small trees and large shrubs and is usually encountered
along valleys, on rocky slopes or beneath inland cliffs. Such areas are often wild and impenetrable and the lush vegetation
is not only beautiful but also home to many animals who find refuge here. The maquis habitat is sometimes the result of degraded
woodlands where large trees have been cut down but on the other hand it can also represent a positive regeneration of abandoned
areas being re-colonised by shrubs - such a process requires decades for nature to restore itself but this phenomenon seems
to have progressed ever since overgrazing declined. Typically the maquis consists mostly of evergreen shrubs such as Lentisk
(Deru), Bay Laurel (Rand), Honeysuckle (Qarn il-Mogħża), Carob (ħarruba) and Olive (żebbuġa), as well as numerous other smaller plants such as the shade-loving
Bear’s Breeches (ħannewija), and climbers such as Common Smilax (Pajżana) and Bramble (Għollieq).
Alas, this rich habitat is often frowned upon and several attempts to “clear
it up” or “clean” such areas with chainsaws or fires in just a matter of a few hours have often undone what
nature took centuries to develop.
Natural garigue forms on a karstic landscape (on limestone areas) and is characterised by low aromatic hardy
shrubs and a multitude of species often constituting a richer habitat in terms of floral diversity than that found in a woodland.
It is also very rich in endemic species.
This is a harsh environment where soil, shade and water are very scarce and only the best adapted
plants can survive – this maybe makes it even more precious a habitat and yet of all local natural habitats this is
one of the most underrated and misunderstood of all as some people still insist to referring to it as “barren wasteland” – a convenient oversight
for anyone who wants to turn it into another built-up area or dumping site. Luckily some areas have been scheduled by MEPA
and hopefully they will survive the axe. Garigue is the most widespread natural
habitat found locally … or so it is till now unless proposed golf courses and other large scale developments are given
the go ahead.
Walk through garigue at any time of the year, yes even in summer, and there is always something to
catch your senses – whether it is the aromatic oils evaporating from the Wild Thyme (Sagħtar) and the Rosemary (Klin) scenting the air or the sight of hundreds of delicate Mediterranean
Meadow Saffron (Busieq) sprouting out after the first rains or the rare orchids making their appearance for just a
few weeks in a year. Some other species include Mediterranean Heath (Erika), Spurges (Tengħud), Rock-Roses (ċistu.), Olive-leaved Germander
(żebbuġija), Azure Stonecrop
(Sedum) , various orchids such as
the Maltese Pyramidal Orchid (Orkida Piramidali ta’ Malta) .
Steppe is common throughout the islands and often occurs as a result of garigue which has been degraded
by overgrazing and burning. Further disturbance will eventually lead to desertification of the place. However, some areas
such as clay slopes support natural steppic communities with bulbous plants and grasses. Such communities are often dominated
by Esparto Grass (ħalfa). The steppe too has its natural beauty both in summer when the 1 metre high stems of the Seaside
Squill (Għansar) dot the landscape with delicate flowers
together with the Fennel (Bużbież) and in winter when the Branched
Asphodel (Għansar) and various orchids rise form their underground abode.
Most specialised habitats can be quite rare or even temporary in nature – making them particularly susceptible
to human impact. Plants and animals living in such habitats are therefore quite sensitive to habitat alterations and are at
greater risk of becoming endangered.
Such is the case with SAND DUNES for instance which are restricted to sandy beaches –
which in themselves are already very rare in the Maltese Islands! This is a harsh habitat with sand which is in constant motion and with a persistent lack of water.
Not to mention that this is also the habitat which experiences great pressures in summer due to the heavy influx of bathers
occupying every inch available. Parking, camping and trampling on sand dunes certainly does not help preserve such fragile
ecosystems and should not be encouraged.
Nature Trust is actively involved in the preservation of the unique sand dune at White Tower Bay.
Another very rare coastal habitat is the saline
marshland – very few such marshes exist and they contain some very rare species as well as attracting migratory
species of birds. Such habitats are unique in that they form an interface between the marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments thus creating very particular environmental
conditions. Plants are typically halophytic- that is they tolerate high levels of salt and they can also survive the dramatic
changes in moisture and salinity levels as most marshy areas dry up completely in summer and are subsequently heavily flooded
in the wet season. Nature Trust has held several clean ups and conservation work
for the restoration of Il-Ballut Nature Reserve.
The COASTAL CLIFFS do not only provide awesome scenery – they are
also home to most of the endemic plants and to important communities of birds such as the National Bird the Blue Rock Thrush
(Merill) and Cory’s Shearwater (ċief). Any organism
here must be very tough! This is a sheer vertical environment where every available crack is made use of to anchor well and
face the relentless strong and salty winds. This is the preferred habitat of the National Plant, the Maltese Rock Centaury
(Widnet il-Baħar) as well as numerous other endemics such as the Maltese
Salt-tree (Xebb) and the very rare Maltese Cliff-orache (Bjanka ta’ l-Irdum) and Maltese Everlasting (Sempreviva ta’
FRESHWATER HABITATS are not so easy to come by due to the
obvious scarcity of rainfall and the permeable nature of most of our rocks. However two main types can be encountered:
o Temporary habitats such as rock pools which sustain life for only a brief
period until the rainwater evaporates – this mini-environment is one of very tight constraints and deadlines …
yet it still manages to support plants such as the beautiful Sanicle-leaved Water Crowfoot (ċfolloq ta’ l-Ilma) and amazing crustaceans such as the Fairy Shrimp (Gamblu ta’
and the Tadpole Shrimp (Gamblu ta’ l-Elmu).
o Permanent watercourses in river valleys – a rare habitat
endangered by pollution and over-extraction of water. This is the only environment where the endemic Maltese Freshwater Crab
(Qabru) can survive.
This type of habitat is certainly not hard to come by at all! It is often what
remains of a natural habitat after years of exploitation or disturbance. Typically such areas are rich in alien invasive species
which often create serious threats to local biodiversity. Such is the case with Acacia and Eucalyptus species as well as Castor
Oil Tree (Riċnu) and Cape Sorrel (ħaxixa Ingliża). Such areas though need not be written off as they often hold the potential for restoration through the planting of
native trees and shrubs.
(Published in the Malta Business Weekly February
“Nobody cares for the woods anymore…”
Treebeard, an Ent in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers. This tree-like shepherd of the forest is concerned with the massive deforestation caused by the evil
wizard “There was a time when Saruman walked in my woods. Now he has a mind of metal and wheels. He no longer cares for growing things.”
is difficult not to draw analogies between Tolkien’s epic The Lord of The Rings and
the post-industrial world of environmental degradation, misuse of resources and an awareness
which almost comes too late. The awakening of the Ents is slow but the revenge is swift and massive – I am sure many
cheered along with me at the success of the Ents who march together to destroy the dark heavy industry at Isengard.
Today deforestation, desertification and land degradation are an
unwelcome reality. But not necessarily an irreversible one. At least on small scales, nature is finding its way back to reclaim
its place in long abandoned fields where wild plants, if left undisturbed, can start a process of succession eventually paving
the way for longer standing perennial shrubs forming a dense maquis, and eventually a woodland.
I long to see the ancient forests regain their ground, spread their roots and branches and advance onto the land which has been taken away
from them. The less trees we have, however, the more they seem to be targets for the axe, or rather, the bulldozer. Hopefully
the tide is turning, yet there still lingers an uncanny dislike for trees amongst many Maltese. Trees are disliked because
they don’t give any fruit, or they make too much of it (which messes up the streets), because they shed leaves (such
nuisance!), or because they hold on to their foliage all year round thus blocking the views of the landscape (aren’t trees also a view in themselves?). Other trees are blamed for attracting all
sorts of insects or for ruining buildings. Maybe we have been out of touch with nature for too long. Of past and present generations
few recognize any of our indigenous trees except maybe for the carob and the olive - how many have heard of, let alone seen
our National Tree? It is a unique tree with a very limited distribution –
the Sandarac Gum Tree which is confined mainly to Morocco, Spain and Malta.
No tree should be judged by its uses
to man but below is just a brief list of all the services which are provided free …
Air to breathe; fruits to eat; medicinal
extracts to heal; network of roots to prevent floods; shields against wind, sunlight and noise; climate regulation; habitat
creation and biodiversity enrichment.
We have some 60 indigenous trees and shrubs – most of which
are hard to come by as they have been reduced to rarities. It is unfortunate
that up to this day indigenous trees such as the Tamarisk are still shunned and replaced by exotic palms that give no shade.
It is unfortunate that we continue to witness the butchering of many trees through excessive pruning and during building works.
Don’t look for regimented trees lined up straight
but rather be surprised by the rich variety of species and scents, the dark shining green leaves of the majestic Holm Oak
with their silvery underside, the elegant narrow leaves of the Willow tree, the ethereally white Poplar, the delicately scented
flowers of the Myrtle and Spanish Broom, the Judas Tree celebrating the arrival of spring with its outburst of pink flowers,
the soft cool caress of the Tamarisk tree on a summer evening, the bright red berries of the Hawthorn and the Lentisk. These
are but a few of the indigenous trees of our Islands –
although some species are indeed hard to come by as they have become rarities in our diminishing countryside.
is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. ~Bill Vaughn
quite a few placenames which bear evidence to the past existence of trees … sad
reminders of a greener Malta of the past. Għajn Riħana (Myrtle),
Il-Balluta (the Oak), Wied Żnuber (Valley of the Pines), Żebbuġ (Olive). Many other places seem
to be destined to the same fate - Sqaq il-Harrub in Marsaskala and Tal-Harrub in Zurrieq still hold majestic
carobs but for how long – both still hang in peril awaiting planning decisions.
So many seeds… so few trees
A stroll under an oak tree in
winter will bear evidence to the multitude of seeds it bears each year. But why do these never make it to mature trees? Malta has just above 1% of its land covered with trees.
1%! With such a meager figure one cannot but be emotional and cry out at even just one more single tree which is cut down
in the name of progress.
Trees of course require space and soil
where to grow and such habitats are being eroded away rapidly by building development, valley works, roads and insensitive
agricultural reclamation or “clean-up and tidying operations” which clear away hopes of any woodland attempting
Forests in Malta?
It is very probably that the
Maltese Islands had a much wider coverage
of woodland in past millennia. Eventual deforestation, overgrazing and plantations
were its demise whilst the last blow was struck especially in last century’s widespread building boom.
There is something mystical and powerful about ancient
trees and woodlands. They demand respect – if only they could speak. Very few remnants of original woodland remain –
but herein lie some true “National Monuments” as the Antiquities Act of 1925 aptly describes the massive oak trees which have seen a thousand years of life on these
“EVERY OAK TREE STARTED OUT AS A COUPLE OF NUTS WHO STOOD THEIR
years ago Nature Trust volunteers started to plant a woodland for the future. Despite the
lack of funds, the cruel vandalistic attacks, the thefts and the countless fires spread by an insistent group of tree-haters,
we did not give up. And today Wied Ghollieqa Nature Reserve counts thousands of indigenous trees the oldest amongst which
have grown tall and produced their own seeds. It is always amazing to see the look of surprise on young students’ faces
when they are shown a small acorn which has turned to be the great string oak tree which is already offering them shade.
No Forest –
We invite you once again to celebrate trees with
us as we did last year during the successful International Week of the Forest - an international venture to focus on the plight of forests (http://www.noforestnofuture.net/).
Be the one to help forests set roots again in malta by supporting initiatives of afforestation around
the island. Remember, however that a woodland grows slowly – it may take more than your lifetime …
The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
Published on occasion of International Forest Week on The Sunday Times of Malta April 2006.
Dolphins – revered creatures of the sea, lovers of freedom
Dolphins as Symbolic Animals
Dolphins – cute “smile”, sleek body, perfect swimmers, charming behavior - it’s
difficult not to love them, not to feel an instant attraction – the aura that surrounds them is one which stirs up deep
feelings in many.
An animal revered in many societies, the dolphin’s image was, and still is, linked to human
notions of intelligence, kindness and friendliness – attributes we seek so often in our human counterparts. Many stories,
dating back even to Greek mythology, recount how these kind creatures often helped mariners in peril – indeed a welcome
sight in otherwise treacherous waters. A constellation in the night sky was also dedicated to “delphinus”.
‘To the dolphin alone nature has given that which the best philosophers seek: friendship
for no advantage. Though it has no need of help of any man, yet it is a genial friend to all, and has helped man.' - Plutarch
The Boto – a river dolphin inhabiting the rivers of the Amazon is partly protected as it
is considered an abomination to cause it any harm – it is believed to have the ability to change into human form.
The image of the dolphin has been used so often it must have rendered many a millionaire what with
countless souvenirs, posters, greeting cards, logos etc being mass marketed all over the globe. Locally, beachtowels, tshirts,
caps, the dolphin features in all – though it is no longer so commonly seen in our waters. There is no doubt about it
– dolphins are crowd pullers, they are always en vogue and ever so popular. It is an animal that is respected and loved.
But there lies a thin line between love and abuse, between misinformation and proper education.
Intelligent roamers of the sea
Research by the US National Science Foundation has shown that dolphin brains are highly encephalized –
that is they have very large brains when compared to their size – a measure which is not so far from the equivalent
of the human ratio. It has also been demonstrated that a wide variety of behavioural abilities of dolphins include “mirror
self-recognition, the comprehension of artificial, symbol-based communication systems and abstract concepts, and the learning
and intergenerational transmission of
behaviors that have been described as cultural” (source:
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/507971/?sc=wire) The possibility of the use of tools is also a new and exciting
discovery which continues to illustrate the highly evolved brains of such animals.
Dolphins – life in the wild
Despite the many attempts at mis-education undertaken by dolphinaria – a dolphin’s
home can only be the vast sea. No other habitat replacement can ever even get close to re-creating a similar environment with
all the diverse features of the sea, the freedom and, yes, the everyday survival battle. Dolphins have evolved and adapted
to such a marine environment and it is up to us to ensure that the seas are freed of human threats rather than taking them
into captivity upon the poor pretext that the sea is full of dangers!
swimmers: their streamlined, muscular and smooth body allows for speeds of up
travellers: they often cover up to 40 miles a day – they are on the go
all the time!
sea divers: dolphins can hold their breath for several minutes and can dive
down to 300m
acrobats: dolphins are playful animals – they love speed, performing acrobatic leaps and bow-riding
communicators: dolphins produce two types of sounds – clicking sounds
used for echolocation – to locate food, obstacles; and high pitched whistles to communicate states of alarm or excitement
and to identify eachother
WILD animals: dolphins travel great distances every day
Dolphins – Dying to entertain you?
The devotees of dolphins often claim that they are special, mystic creatures – but some feel
the necessity to take it a step further and support entertainment businesses that have been capitalizing on this feeling for
decades. As the saying goes “if you love someone, set them free” – it is an anomalous situation where many
dolphin lovers actually support the cruel industry which is causing so much suffering and losses to the dolphin community.
If you claim to love dolphins then visiting a dolphinarium is certainly not the way to show it!
Dolphins have been recognized as being highly sociable animals living in complex groups and families
– recent findings clearly show that such groups often have a key member that leads and ensures the cohesion, and thus
the survival, of the rest of the group. The taking of dolphins from the wild to supply dolphinaria for their entertainment
shows is a major threat to dolphin survival – the hunts for dolphins are merciless and cause havoc amongst groups often
ending up in bloody massacres (vide attached photo of dolphin drive hunts in Japan) where many suffer trauma, injury or die
during the process.
Denied their basic needs, their distorted by being captive and forced to perform, the revered creature
is turned into nothing more than a clown in a circus act
Is there any tank that is large enough? No. Some of the larger tanks existing to date still
are some 700 times smaller than a dolphin's daily swim range. Dolphins are protected locally in the wild – but not so much so in captivity where they face a life of boredom
which often drives them into depressed or violent behaviour.
“No aquarium, no tank in a marineland, however spacious it may be, can begin
to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marinelands can
be considered normal.... It is certain that the study of human psychology, if it were undertaken exclusively in prisons, would
also lead to misrepresentation and absurd generalizations."
-- Jacques Cousteau
The joy, or otherwise, of seeing a dolphin
It always was my dream to see a dolphin at close range. But I never expected the deep sadness that
accompanied me throughout and for a long time after my visit a few years ago, as a volunteer of marine Life Care Group (now
Nature Trust) to assess the situation at the local dolphinarium. Four Black Sea Bottlenose dolphins were brought over and
kept in a miserable, filthy and shallow pool. Their fins stuck out of the water and
their eyes, their whole bodies expressed mirrored the sadness of it all – such a
majestic, powerful creature locked in a concrete prison in the basking sun. This was not what I had wanted to experience.
It left a mark on me to this day – Bhudvan, Kvitcha, Pega, Chigra are just names now as all seem to have died. Their
sadness was passed on to the victims of this fate – dolphins captured from the wild in Cuban waters which were brought
over two years ago.
The true joy, however, also came along on the various lucky encounters of groups of wild common
and bottlenose dolphins while at sea. Dolphins may not be so conspicuous but they still are found in our waters – they
can even be sighted during the ferry crossing between the islands. The fleeting moment, when everything happens so quickly
and you are cursing yourself for not having a camera, lives on in the memory as well and can never be compared to seeing a
dolphin caged in and made to perform unnatural tricks. Dolphins should be appreciated from a distance … and with no
22nd July 2005
Il-Ħajja mimlija enerġija madwarna – mhux il-ħajja mgħaġġla tal-bniedem jew it-traffiku jew l-istorbju ta’ l-industrija
u l-fabbriki … izda tilmaħ preżenza, kultant sottili ħafna, ta’ ħlejjaq oħra li jagħtu inqas fil-għajn. Ħafna twarrbu fil-ġenb, fil-kurituri dojoq u rqajja żgħar
ta’ fdalijiet ta’ ambjent naturali mhedda mid-daqqa tal-gaffa, mill-konkrit, mit-tniġġiz, u mill-inġenji
ta “żvilupp”. Oħrajn adattaw xi ftit jew wisq għal konvivenza sfurzata
mal-bniedem fl-ambjent urbanizzat fejn ifittxu spazju f’kull roqgħa – sostituta
fqira għall-abitat oriġinali tagħhom. Dawk li ma laħqux jew li ma setgħux jadattaw … inqerdu
gżiritna. Bħalma sparixxa il-barbaġann, il-bumarin, iċ-ċawla, il-fekruna
Izda minkejja iċ-ċokon tal-gżejjer, il-perċentwali estremament
għolja ta’ art mibnija u 7000 sena ta’ ħakma tal-bniedem, għad hemm natura li tibqa’ tipprova iżżomm id-dritt għall-ispazju tagħha.
Fid-dellijiet, jekk tieqaf tissemma, jekk ssir ħaġa
waħda mal-lejl, tibda tinduna li hemm nightlife ta’ xort’oħra!
It-titjira ħafifa ta’ farfett il-lejl u l-ħoss kemm kemm jinstema’
hekk kif ifittex iktar nemus li diffiċilment jiżgiċċalu. Annimal żgħir
– l-uniku mammiferu li jtir, iżda wkoll wieħed mill-annimali żventurati li tpoġġa
f’dawl ikrah ta superstizzjonijiet. Il-preżenza tiegħu ma tantx tintlaqat tajjeb
minkejja li jagħmel tant ġid u ma jagħtix fastidju.
Fi żmien il-passa xi kwakka issemma leħinha
hi u tittajjar bil-lejl, megħjuna mill-kwiekeb. Forsi hekk teħles minn xi sorpriża ta’ ċomb jaħraq.
Jekk tkun iffurtunat jaf tilmaħ xi musbieħ il-lejl – tixgħel u titfi d-dawl tagħha tipprova tikkompeti
mad-dawl artifiċjali biex issib is-sieħeb tagħha mitluf idur stordut
ma’ xi arblu tad-dawl!
F’lejl sajfi bla qamar, ikun hemm ferneżija sħiħa ta’ attivita` mas-sisien – kolonji ta’ mijiet ta’ ċief li jżuruna biss f’dan
iż-żmien u li iktar milli tarahom – huwa ċert li se tismagħhom hekk kif jimlew
l-arja bil-karba ta’ ħafna trabi huma u jftixxu r-rokna esklussiva tagħhom
f’dal kondominju ta’ agħsafar. Jidħlu wara ġurnata ta’
sajd biex iġibu l-ikel għall-ferħ waħdieni tagħhom - iżuruh kull lejl għal
xahrejn sħaħ sakemm ikun lest biex jitlaq il-bejta. Il-leġġenda tgħid li wara l-mewta ta’ l-eroj grieg Diomedes, sħabu tant bkewh li Afrodite
iddeċidiet li tibdilhom f’għasafar destinati jibqgħu
jlissnu l-bikja tagħhom bhala ċief – isimhom
bil-latin huwa fil-fatt diomedea.
Il-lejl hu wkoll il-ħin fejn il-qanfud joħroġ iħuf għall-bebbux (mingħajr
ma jqalleb ħitan tas-sejjieh …) u l-ballottra biex
tikkaċċja bil-ħeffa tagħha.
Ma’ sbieh il-jum jinbidel is-“shift” u annimali
oħra jibdew jippreparaw għall-jum quddiemhom. L-għasafar
jiċċaċċraw, il-friefet jiftħu ġwenħajhom għax-xemx biex isaħħnuhom u l-mazzarell inixxef ġwenhajh tal-bizzilla mill-qtar mikroskopiu
Ghas-sħana tal-ġurnata joħorġu
l-gremxul u s-serp jixxemxu u jiġbru l-enerġija fuq il-blat tax-xagħri. Il-gremxula li tara tiġri fil-ġnien hija speċi unika għall-gżejjer tagħna iżda dal-fatt għadu ma għenx wisq biex tinbidel il-mentalita ta wħud li jistkerrħu lilha u r–rettili l-oħra mingħajr ma jafu eżatt għalfejn. U forsi mingħajr ma jindunaw li qed
jitilfu servizz b’xejn li joffru dawn l-annimali għall-bilanċ ta’ l-ekosistema.
Il-werżieq ma jitlifx l-okkażjoni biex isemma leħnu
li jogħla iktar u iktar hekk kif togħla t-temperatura u kulħadd ikun qed jipprova jieħu nagħsa.
Fil-ħarifa jeħodlu postu l-pitiross
fi triqtu lej klima aktar sħuna – sakemm ma jintlaqax b’xi trabokk f’idejn min jahseb
li dak l-unika mod biex tapprezzah.
F’pajjiżna l-istaġun tal-ħarifa huwa ż-żmien ta’ tiġdid għall-ħajja ilgħaliex tfisser qawmien mir-raqda tas-sajf twil u aħrax,
ta’ żmien ta’ xemx kiefra u skarsezza kbira ta’ ilma. Il-widien u l-għadajjar
ċkejknin jilqgħu l-ilma tax-xita u b’hekk jilqgħu
l-ħajja – żrinġijiet, gambli ta’ l-għadajjar
u annimali żgħar oħra jieħdu r-ruħ u jisfruttaw daż-żmien qasir ta’ riġenerazzjoni qabel jevapora kollox u l-ilma jerġa jiġi
“misruq” mill-atmosfera. Mill-banda l-ohra in-nixxiegħat permanenti li jżommu
ftit ilma tul is-sena kollha jagħtu l-unika opportunita għall-unika granċ
ta’ l-ilma ħelu li nsibu f’Malta – il-qabru. Dal-granċ huwa endemiku
għal pajjiżna iżda huwa f’riskju ta’ estinzjoni minkejja li protett. Tgħid jibqa jidher biss fuq il-munita tal-ħames ċentezmi?
Bħalissa wkoll il-baħar
jistrieħ – jieħu nifs wara l-folol u traffiku fil-baħar. Anki hawn il-ħajja tkompli – forsi ftit iktar siekta għax
din ta’ taħt l-ilma hija dinja ohra. Tisma biss in-nifs tal-bugħaddas.
Sakemm ma tesperjenzax it-tisfira ta’ denfil jghum fil-liberta, u mhux fil-habs ta’ ħitan
artifiċjali tad-dolfinarju. Iżda din hija dinja wkoll ta vibrazzjonijiet sottili uħud
jinhassu biss mill-ħut.
U hekk tinżel ix-xemx fuq ġurnata oħra
– il-granċijiet joħorġu jiġru jaħkmu x-xtut deżerti,
u iċ-ċiklu jkompli.
Annalise Falzon, 2006